Author Archives: Erik Brooks

No One Hurt In Bedroom Fire


From the South Milwaukee Fire Department …

At approximately 3:40PM this afternoon, SMFD responded to a 9-1-1 report of a comforter on fire at 401 Williams Avenue.  Upon arrival of SMFD units, light smoke was seen coming out of the front door and the occupants were waiting outside.  When crews entered the house, they found a fire consuming the comforters, pillows, and mattress in a rear bedroom,  The fire was quickly extinguished, but not before extensive heat and smoke damage affected the involved bedroom and moderate smoke filled the entire house. The fire is currently under investigation.  No one was injured in the fire.

Please keep the residents of this property in your prayers.

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Filed under Fire, South Milwaukee

Rolling Out Automated Garbage Collection

I am happy to say we’re poised to roll out a new and more efficient approach to garbage collection.

What does this mean? Simply, we’ll soon be requiring all South Milwaukee properties to use city-provided tipper carts for their garbage. Without them, we won’t pick it up.

As I’ve written about, this approach is much more efficient than our current process. And it’s safer for our workers and will help us be a cleaner-looking city.

Here is the rollout plan …

  • May: Transition begins for those who have their garbage picked up on Thursdays.
  • This fall: Transition for Wednesday pickups.
  • 2016: Transition for Monday and Tuesday pickups.

Those impacted by the changes will receive a brochure in the mail with more details, as their transition date approaches. (Those with Thursday pickups should have already received it.)

Here is the brochure that was sent to those who have their trash picked up on Thursdays. From it …

What is it?

The City of South Milwaukee will be transitioning to a fully automated garbage collection system that solely uses tipper carts for collection. The city has been picking up garbage with a semi-automated process from cans, bags, and 95-gallon tipper carts for a number of years.

When will the transition take place?

The transition will begin with the Thursday garbage collection in May, 2015. Residents with collection on Wednesdays will be transitioned to the new automated system in the fall of 2015. Those with other collection days will transition to the new system in 2016.

How will it be implemented?

The city will provide a 95 gallon tipper cart to your property if you do not have one. Once the property has received a cart, the automated process will begin. Only garbage in the tipper cart will be picked up. The operator will not exit the truck to remove barriers or adjust the placement of the cart due to obstructions.

I’ll keep you posted as the rollout continues.

We appreciate your patience. There will surely be a few headaches with this, but our Street Department is working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. Please be respectful as we make this important, and necessary, move.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Progress Toward Long-Term Solutions For The Oak Creek Watershed

Oak Creek parkway

I am excited for the future of the Oak Creek watershed, and we’re making progress toward what I consider a key part of its long-term health and vibrancy: a watershed restoration plan.

The goal: Develop a plan that will guide future actions and investment across the watershed, giving us the information we need to make a real difference in bringing this environmental, ecological and recreational resource back to life.

As you may recall, leaders and other key stakeholders from each of the communities, governmental bodies and other organizations in the 28-square-fmile watershed met in January to discuss a potential plan. At the meeting, we gave feedback to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission so they could provide a scope of work.

That scope of work is now back, and you can see it here.

It lays out a clear case for why a plan is necessary – including some of the problems that need addressing, and how we can get to workable solutions for the long term. The four focus areas will be around:

  • Water quality;
  • Recreational access and use;
  • Habitat conditions, and
  • Targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues.

In addition, the scope document states, the status of the Mill Pond and the associated dam would be addressed considering their relationship to multiple focus issues.

The most important deliverable for me: “The watershed restoration plan will present implementation strategies, estimate the amount of technical and financial assistance needed for implementation and the associated costs, identify the authorities that will be relied upon to implement the plan, and identify potential sources of technical and financial assistance for plan implementation.”

In other words, this plan will deliver a comprehensive list of projects we should tackle across the watershed to ensure its long-term vitality. And it will provide us a path to address them.

It won’t be cheap. The restoration plan as proposed comes in at more than $500,000. But this is the cost of the holistic approach we’ve been lacking in this debate for decades. (The last similar study was done in the late 1980.)

Leaders representing some of the key potential plan funders — me, Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and Parks Director John Dargle and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer — and Mike Hahn from SEWPRC met recently to discuss coordination, a path toward implementation and potential funding strategies.

It was a very positive discussion. We will meet again.

We will also be seeking grant funding for the plan, such as is being done with a related Oak Creek watershed water quality data testing effort being proposed by the Racine Health Department.

I ask for your continued support of this process and pledge to keep you posted as we move ahead. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.

The public will remain a key part of the process throughout, and will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in as we look to move ahead with the plan. That commitment to public involvement, outreach and education will also continue during the actual planning effort, as we’d bring on a third-party group focused on just those activities. You can learn more in the scope of work.

Ultimately, any funding strategy will require approval by the boards and councils of all the entities, and we’ll work toward that in coming months.

As I’ve written about, this is important work for South Milwaukee, and the entire watershed. I believe more than ever that this is the right path to take here.


Filed under Oak Creek watershed, South Milwaukee

Mixed Caterpillar Earnings And Other Headlines

Some good news/bad news in Caterpillar’s earnings, a Cudahy gun club update, St. Francis lakefront apartments proposed and more.

Check out these South Shore headlines …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

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Filed under Caterpillar, South Milwaukee

Here Are More Details On The South Milwaukee Food Truck Carnival


I’m not sure South Milwaukee has ever seen something like this. And I love it.

See you Sunday, May 3!

Print the flyer here.

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Filed under Downtown, Events, South Milwaukee

Bringing Downtown South Milwaukee History To Life

Train station old

How about one more cool downtown event this summer?

It’s the South Milwaukee Historical Society Downtown Walking Tour starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

From local historian Nels Monson, who is leading it …

Lace up your walking shoes and join us on Saturday June 20 for a walking tour of Downtown South Milwaukee led by City Historian Nels Monson.

Tour starts at the Railroad Depot and is expected to last about two hours.

Cost is $5 per person. Children under 12 and seniors over 80 are FREE. All proceeds benefit the South Milwaukee Historical Society.

I’ve added this to the full list of downtown events. Mark your calendars!


Filed under Downtown, South Milwaukee

Celebrating Arbor Day


Arbor Day is Thursday, and I’m happy to say the City of South Milwaukee is partnering with the South Milwaukee School District to celebrate.

How? By planting trees, of course.

The city will plant a tree at each of the four South Milwaukee public elementary schools over the next couple of weeks. A brief ceremony is planned at each school recognizing Arbor Day and the planting.

The schedule, all at 3 p.m. …

  • Thursday, April 23: E. W. Luther
  • Monday, April 27: Rawson
  • Wednesday, April 29: Lakeview
  • Friday, May 1: Blakewood

Here is a flyer. And here is a proclamation passed by the city council last night.

None of this would be possible without the leadership of hard work of Dan Ratajski, our assistant street department, who is receiving significant training from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in urban forestry, as we ramp up our city tree program. This event came out of those efforts.

And let’s also thank Walmart, which stepped up to donate $1,000 for the tree planting.

I am excited to get behind efforts like this, as we grow our urban forestry program. We took on this important added service last year, and we’re in it for the long term.

I also ask you to consider planting a tree in 2015 …

Happy Arbor Day!

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Filed under South Milwaukee